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Tuesday July 05, 2022

Frequent droughts: Remodelling of water distribution & irrigation infrastructure stressed

By Bureau report
May 13, 2022

PESHAWAR: Experts at a seminar on Thursday called for better management of transboundary rivers to cope with growing water scarcity, frequent droughts and increasing heatwaves due to climate change. The experts stressed the remodelling of water distribution and irrigation infrastructure to save water resources in future. The seminar titled, “Hydro-Climatic Modelling on Transboundary Waters,” was organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the University of Agriculture Peshawar. The speakers declared depleting water resources and outdated infrastructure causes of loss of water. They called for urgent tangible and implementable steps if Pakistan wanted to escape the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Water Resource Development Expert from USAID Muhammad Nawaz highlighted the importance of such activities. He spoke of the USAID interests in Pakistan water sector and added that USAID-funded the Gomal Zam Dam had Pakistan 3rd largest water storage capacity.

University of Agriculture Vice-Chancellor Dr Jehan Bakt said that Pakistan was 10th country in the world badly affected by climate change.

“Fast-growing population, unplanned urbanization, deteriorating drought shapes, sudden heatwaves causing massive floods are threatening our existence,” he said.

The vice-chancellor maintained that Pakistan was 14th among the 17 high-risked countries where 80 percent of its population would face severe water scarcity.

“Pakistan has the lowest productivity ratio per cubic meters of water”, he explained.

Dr Asif Khan, a water and climate change expert, discussed various aspects, causes, impacts, and way out of looming climate change and growing water scarcity at Indus River Basins, Kabul River Basin and its sub-basins.

He said if there was a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in the world’s temperature, there would be a four to five degrees increase in temperature of Pakistan that would lead to prolonged droughts and severe flash floods. “In the worst-case scenario, it would threaten Indus basin civilization”, he added.

The expert emphasized an effective data-sharing system between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China over its transboundary rivers for better management of water.

“Pakistan must construct small hydro-power projects upstream to mitigate impacts of floods that are not only reducing storage capacity but also damaging infrastructure,” he said.

Dr Shahid Iqbal, a regional researcher of water modelling at IWMI, said hydrological modelling selection and its judicial use in the data-scarce region was very tricky and highly important in the modern era. “Now it’s time that we must adopt the new methods to improve water resource management under the changing climate,” he added.

Dr Iqbal introduced the Soil and Water Assessment Tool or SWAT Hydrological Model to the experts from various departments who were present as participants.

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